ShopSmith V--Opinions

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Forum topic by PatP posted 08-30-2009 05:27 PM 3493 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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43 posts in 2659 days

08-30-2009 05:27 PM

Hey guys, I need some opinions about the ShopSmith V. I see quite a few for sale on various websites from 1500 down to 500. What are these machines strong and weak points. Thanks All

-- Pat>>> A Man Don't Learn a Lesson Unless It Costs Him Blood or Money!!!!!

9 replies so far

View ddockstader's profile


151 posts in 2680 days

#1 posted 08-30-2009 06:24 PM

Well, I own two and I lead our club’s Shopsmith SIG, so I guess I can talk a little about them. I don’t own a table saw other than the Shopsmith and I use it for that. That said, it is not the best table saw in the world. The table is not large and it moves up and down, so it is hard to build an outfeed table for it. Even with the 1 1/8 hp motor, it still bogs down on heavy cutting. The fence on the model 500 and 510 (the two I own) is alright, but you have to be careful in locking it down that it is parallel to the blade. I measure front and back a couple of times each time I set it. As a drill press and sander, it is great. I actually use the horizontal boring quite a bit for dowel joints. I like the lathe a lot, although I wish it would go slightly slower to turn bowls. But it is a fine spindle lathe. All this sounds like faint praise. So why do I own two of them? Because you can’t get a more versatile set of machines in that small a space anywhere else. I also have the router attachment, band saw and strip sander. Without a speed increaser, you should skip the router attachment. The band saw is very good and so is the strip sander. It gets a little frustrating to switch between operations, but it all fits in my relatively small shop. And it is a quality product. I will admit that I bought both of mine used, but if you watch Craig’s List or eBay, you can get some pretty good deals. Plus I (and the others in our SIG) have a terrific time thinking up new uses and accessories for the Shopsmith. We’ve built sanding dust collection attachments, under-table storage units, lighting mounts that hang on the way tubes, and about a dozen other ideas. One of the guys takes used Shopsmiths, cuts the tubes down, and make them into minis for dedicated machines. One guy has used the Shopsmith to cut and shape granite pieces as part of a lamp. It is just a great machine and there is no end to what it can do – in a very limited space.

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43 posts in 2659 days

#2 posted 08-30-2009 07:22 PM

ddockstader, WOW! Glad I asked here first. Thanks so much for your very informative post. I don’t have space issues since I moved to Florida, I have a 100’x80’x28’ steel building that I built to work on hot rods but got involved in this woodworking thing also. I do own most of the tools that the ShopSmith offers except a lathe. I figured for $500 I might be able to use some of the attachments for dedicated machines?? Guess it wouldn’t hurt to go and have a look at this one. Thanks again!

-- Pat>>> A Man Don't Learn a Lesson Unless It Costs Him Blood or Money!!!!!

View ddockstader's profile


151 posts in 2680 days

#3 posted 08-30-2009 09:43 PM

100’ x 80’ – I’ll trade you one of my Shopsmiths for that building! We just need to move it to Illinois.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 3196 days

#4 posted 08-31-2009 02:30 AM

My shop is 16×20 which is why I own a Shopsmith and have for 25+ years. I own the 520 with larger 1 1/4 HP motor, I would not recommend the smaller motor, and with thin blades I have yet to find something I can’t cut well. The 520 has more table surface and I have infeed and outfeed tables as well as enough other tables to end up with a 25ft square plane all around the saw for cutting large sheet goods (but only outside).

You can check out the shopsmith forum for more information, all the questions you will have have already been answered.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View MrToolHunter's profile


78 posts in 3092 days

#5 posted 08-31-2009 04:20 AM

Hey PatP,
Take a look at my Shopsmith blog where I’ve been ranting about my 20+ years of Shopsmith ownership and fanaticism. Suffice it to say I love my Mark V and would buy it again if I had to make the choice.

Weakness: Low lathe can cause back aches if you are tall, and the high/tilting saw table takes some getting use to.
Strengths: Variable speed, large table on model 505, 510 and 520, great capacities on all features. Excellent bandsaw.


-- and

View johnnyp's profile


10 posts in 2633 days

#6 posted 09-02-2009 07:35 PM

I have a 1993 mark V 500 with the bandsaw attachment.
I love it, I dont do many big projects but have never had anything I could’nt do.

Here in minnesota I paid $400, I found it on craigs list. It was in clean usable condition.

I also recomend the shopsmith forums, There is a ton of info there.

-- JohnnyP - Lindstrom, Minnesota

View dragginbutt's profile


28 posts in 2548 days

#7 posted 10-31-2009 01:33 AM

I just inherited mine from my father. However I have a lot of experience with it. I have to say you need to manage your expectations when buying and using a Shopsmith. If you need a high production shop full of tools and need to move from machine to machine to accomplish a lot of produciton work, then maybe this may not be the best choice. However in the case of most owners, two issues ring true. First is storage space. I doubt there is anything else on the market that can top it. Second, if you are cutting large sheets of plywood all the time, you need to think about an outfeed system. There is a product called Sawtrain that has a system specifically made for the shopsmith.

Most owners of the shopsmith are NOT production cabinet shops. We use it for fun and enjoyment. There is little it cannot do, but there are usually work arounds when you run into trouble, and there are a lot of people out there that are willing ot offer assistance.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 2703 days

#8 posted 10-31-2009 04:07 PM

Pat, Don’t want to sound negative, but just looking at it from the other side. Biggest plus is space…...Sounds like that’s not a problem for you with the size of your shop. The second is they offer a lot of tools for the budget and that’s hard to beat…....but then again, I see you work on Hot Rods, doesn’t sound like that is your biggest draw back either. LOL.
I don’t have a Shopsmith, but a very close friend of mine does. He loves his shopsmith, but every time he spends any time in my small shop and watches me move from table saw, to band saw, to drill press, to sander, he always tells me that is the most frustrating thing about his and he’s lost interest in woodworking, because he feels he spends more time tearing down and setting up then actually woodworking…...and he says it never fails, the next tool he needs to use is not what is set up at that time.
I’m not trying to say anything negative, just food for thought. Only you know how you like to woodwork and how much space you have and what your budget is and how much patience you have in setting up for each task. I think they are a great machine, I just like having each tool seperate and in a small shop, that can be a challenge!

-- John @

View dragginbutt's profile


28 posts in 2548 days

#9 posted 10-31-2009 07:42 PM

Huff, I think with a large shop where you have different stations set up, it may allow you to work more efficiently. I can certainly attest to having to do a great deal more planning with my projects. I try to do all my cutting, then move to other tasks as needed. I find that the majority of my work is with the table saw and using the dado blades. I don’t usually use the lathe, or the horizontal boring bar, and I have a bench mounted drill press that covers the majority of what I need it for. But I had those before I got the shopsmith, so if I didn’t have one, then it certainly would save me some money there.
It appears that perhaps Pat may not want to get too into wodworking to teh point where it inpinges on his auto hobby. I can certainly relate to that. I think a lot of people start with a Shopsmith to see if the hobby is for them or not. It won’t take long to see if you are cut out for it or not. That may be the case with your friend. And lets face it, those sales demos really pull a few strings in the old chest, and many find themselves in woodworking but never attain woodworker status. They are real cool conversational piece though. I have not met another man that isn’t jealous when they see yours…. Maybe it is a cult thing. I think a shopsmith certainly will let you get in there and find out if you are passionate about it, and you can move on to a bigger setup like you have. I still think not having th eability to tilt the saw blade is the number one fault, along with lack of easy outfeed. Moving the table up and down to adjust blade height is not the greatest either. I am considering using a track system in the future, but they are expensive.

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